Nov 20: Being right with God is His gift to us in Jesus
by IAN GREIG writing in THE LIVING WORD
This is The Living Word Bible Study for Sunday, November 20, 2022 and it is based on the Revised Common Lectionary Bible readings, followed by many churches and chapels, set for that Sunday.
Nov. 20: Being right with God is His gift to us in Jesus
Jeremiah 23:1-6 — This shepherd imparts righteousness to His own
Luke 23:33-43 — Anyone can turn to Jesus the Saviour for salvation
Colossians 1:9-20 — Jesus who is foremost, is our freedom bringer
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1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
4-5 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.
6-7 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; He lifts his voice, the earth melts. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
8 Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolations He has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; He burns the shields with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
11 The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Jeremiah 23:1–6 — This shepherd imparts righteousness to His own
- A corrupted lineage ends but a new branch of David’s root will appear
1 “Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of My pasture!” declares the LORD.
“Woe to the shepherds” — at a time when deportations were occurring, a succession of kings were like irresponsible shepherds, not gathering and protecting but “scattering” the flock in stubborn pride.
• For further study, read Jer. 22.
2 Therefore this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says to the shepherds who tend My people: “Because you have scattered My flock and driven them away and have not bestowed care on them, I will bestow punishment on you for the evil you have done,” declares the LORD.
“Scattered My flock” — the Lord is saying that the people are His and He will “take care of” them, and also “take care of” or punish the negligent leaders.
3 “I Myself will gather the remnant of My flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture, where they will be fruitful and increase in number.
“I… will… gather the remnant” — the ultimate Good Shepherd, the Lord, Psalm 23:1, John 14:11,14 will bring back faithful survivors to their land, Judah, in resettlements.
4 I will place shepherds over them who will tend them, and they will no longer be afraid or terrified, nor will any be missing,” declares the LORD.
“Shepherds… who will tend them” — God says He will raise up righteous leaders (like Ezra, Zerubbabel and Nehemiah).
5 “The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, a king who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.
“Raise up for David a righteous branch” — a descendant of new growth rather than the main stem, the same idea as a “shoot… from the stump of Jesse”, Isaiah 11:1. A significant passage about the Messiah. The current king, unrighteous Zedekiah, will be the last of the line.
6 In His days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which He will be called: The LORD Our Righteous Saviour.
“The name” — Yahweh Tsidqenu, the Lord our righteousness. A play on the king’s name, Tsidqiyyahu or Zedekiah, ‘righteous is the Lord’ or ‘the Lord my righteousness’. Zedekiah’s mockery of His name is to be reversed in a ruler, not only righteous but imparting righteousness to those who believe in Him.
- For further study: This is justification by faith in Christ, where by no action other than our faith, His righteousness becomes imparted to us, 2 Cor. 5:21, Romans 4:5–8.
SUMMARY This OT prophecy points us directly to Jesus. Jeremiah saw in the Spirit how God turned the name of the wicked king or ‘shepherd’ Zedekiah, the Lord my righteousness, into a new prophetic promise of huge significance. The coming Good Shepherd would be the Lord OUR righteousness.
APPLICATION Jeremiah here foretells the coming of Jesus Christ, and gives us the basis of our redemption and freedom. It is not about our striving to be righteous, but what the “Lord our righteous Saviour” has done for us. The good that we ‘do’ is to believe Him and trust Him for who He is.
QUESTION Why is the Old Testament important? How does it help us understand the New?
Luke 23:33-43 — Anyone can turn to Jesus the Saviour for salvation
• A criminal dying on a cross turns and trusts in Jesus for eternal life
33 When they came to the place called The Skull, they crucified Him there, along with the criminals — one on his right, the other on his left.
“The Skull” — Golgotha (Aramaic), Calvaria (Latin), probably a hill by a main road just outside the city. Either named as a public execution site, or because the rocks resembled a skull — or both.
34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up His clothes by casting lots.
“They do not know” — the soldiers had no idea that they were fulfilling the words of Psalm 22:18. The fruit of Christ’s pronouncement of forgiveness was seen in thousands of Jewish salvations beginning at Pentecost.
35 The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if He is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”
“Rulers… sneered” — Luke’s quotation also looks back to Psalm 22:7–8: “All who see Me mock Me… ‘He trusts in the Lord… let the Lord rescue Him…’ “
36-37 The soldiers also came up and mocked Him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”
“Wine vinegar” — cheap, sour wine drunk to assuage thirst by labourers and soldiers: not a kind offering but one which would prolong the agony.
38 There was a written notice above Him, which read: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
“A written notice” — detailing the crime (crucifixion was a deterrent punishment) and Pilate’s way of mocking the Jewish leaders who had insisted on a death sentence.
“This is the King” — ironic: one who to appearances had lost a kingdom was just coming into a different one.
39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at Him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save Yourself and us!”
40–41 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into Your kingdom.”
“Jesus, remember me” — only Luke records the exchange with an insulting criminal, and the other who believed who He was and trusted Him. An important details, showing that our deeds do not save us, but our faith in Jesus Christ does, whoever we are.
43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with Me in paradise.”
“Paradise” — a Persian word meaning garden, used to represent both the Garden of Eden and heaven, the place of eternal bliss for God’s people.
• For further study, see 2 Cor. 12:4; Rev. 2.7 and also Luke 16:22-23; 2 Cor. 5:8.
SUMMARY Luke paints a vivid picture of what Jesus, the Righteous One has done, giving up life for us. We, like the criminal in the story, deserving to be put to death for our rebellion,. can choose to turn to Jesus and ask Him to receive us into His kingdom.
APPLICATION Can it be as simple as that? Can we really come to Jesus without any track record of our goodness or deservedness? The point is, the repentant criminal did just that and was assured of new and forgiven life. Rather than bringing Him our claim of merit, we need to humble ourselves before Jesus as those who have rebelled — and simply receive His forgiveness.
QUESTION Why do many become Christians in prison, while those with well-ordered lives find it difficult?
Colossians 1:9–20 — Jesus who is foremost, is our freedom bringer
• The Son of God is the complete image, representation and fullness of God
9-10 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God…
“Knowledge of His will” — the Holy Spirit gives the believer an innate sense of God’s will, the key to a fruitful and growing life.
“Live a life worthy of the Lord” — not by religious traditions of Judaism but living in a way pleasing to Jesus as Lord.
11 …being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience…
“Strengthened with all power” — the same power that raised Jesus from the dead empowers Christians to live for Jesus with patience and joy in the face of trials.
12 …and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of His holy people in the kingdom of light.
“Who has qualified you… to share…in the kingdom of light — a spiritual qualification; God counts us sufficient through Jesus Christ.
13–14 For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
“Dominion of darkness” — causes a spiritual blindness in the same way that nightfall hampers our ability to see physically; prevents unbelievers being aware of their spiritual condition.
15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
“Image of the invisible God” — the Greek word, also in 2 Cor. 4:4, means exact representation. The two truths set out here are that God is invisible, John 1:18 but Christ the eternal Son of God reflects and reveals what the Father is like.
• For further study: John 14:9, Hebrews 1:3.
16 For in Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through Him and for Him.
“Thrones or powers…” — false teachers in Colossae were deceiving with spiritual hierarchies and the worship of angelic beings alongside Christ, Col. 2:18. Paul asserts that Christ is the pre-eminent Creator, not created.
17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.
“Before all things” — pre-existent, therefore eternal.
• For further study, see Micah 5:2; John 1:1, 2; 8:58; 1 John 1:1; Rev. 22:13.
18 And He is the Head of the body, the Church; He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything He might have the supremacy.
“Head of the body” — Paul wrote about the unity of Christ and His church as His body, 1 Cor. 12:27; here he further emphasises Christ as the Head, the authority and source.
19–20 For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the Cross.
“Fullness of God” — the totality of God, His attributes and all His powers.
“Peace” — cessation of conflict in the sense that dark heavenly powers, v.16, are subjugated.
SUMMARY This is a powerful and plain statement of Jesus-centred faith. Simple, fundamental faith? The truth is not complicated. Anyone can get it. The truth is that Jesus did reconcile all things to Himself, and in Him all things really do hold together.
APPLICATION As Isaiah said, “all our righteous acts are like filthy rags”. There is only one thing we can do to truly please God, and that is to live a life worthy of Him by believing Him and choosing to make Him Lord.
QUESTION How much do we value the rescue, v.13, Jesus offers? How much do we trust the Rescuer?
PRAYER Lord, Jesus, I praise You that in You all things hold together, and all man’s supposed powers and authorities have been created by You.
Forgive me for paying too much attention to the confusion of life without You.
I look to You, Jesus, because You are the way and the truth and the life — and I pray for those exercising authority that they may find themselves moved by Your Spirit to trust You for guidance.
You are Lord Jesus, to the glory of God the Father. Amen.
Originally published at https://thelivingword.uk on November 20, 2022.